Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Highly featured, super comfy, well ventilated
Cons: Heavy, fairly expensive
Best Uses: Recreational backpacking, hiking, light climbing, around town
The Oracle is one of our favorite rain jackets that we tested. It is chock full of thoughtful design features like the Angel-Wing Movement™ construction, and is the most comfortable of all the rain jackets that we tried. This jacket performed well in all of our tests, and it simply became the jacket that we reached for the most when heading out on a rainy day jog, or a foggy jaunt around town. We like the ample features of the jacket, however, it is very heavy compared to other models. We might liken the jacket more to a lightweight hardshell than traditional rain jacket. For a less expensive Marmot rain jacket, try the Marmot Precip Jacket - Women's, which is similar to the Oracle, but stripped down. For a lightweight jacket to pack on hiking trips, try our Top Pick ultralight choice, the Outdoor Research Helium 2 - Women's.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A comfort-driven jacket, the Oracle is geared more towards livability than light weight and compressibility for travel in the backcountry. This jacket is heavy and expensive, but feels comfortable and luxurious when wearing.
As with all the rain shells we tested, the Women's Oracle is entirely waterproof. With 20,000 mm in water resistance, Marmot's layered MemBrain® Strata™ fabric is a success. We never noticed any leaking or seeping inside the jacket. All the seams are taped and the zippers are all housed in storm flaps to keep out stray drops.
While the fabric doesn't breathe remarkably well, an intelligent feature of this jacket is the incorporation of large mesh lined pockets on the front of the jacket that allow for ventilation, dramatically improving breathability during high-output activities with little loss of weather protection. It also has pit-zips for additional airflow when needed.
Comfort & Mobility
The Oracle's entire collar is lined with micro fleece, adding warmth and slightly fortifying the collar. The sleeve cuffs are fleece-lined as well, making the comfort appeal obvious. Wearing this piece feels like wearing a normal jacket, and not just a cold and clammy skin. The jacket is cut and fitted well, allowing for easy freedom of movement while maintaining good coverage, even with arms raised. Another simple but surprising feature was the roomy hood: in rain gear specifically, women are always looking for a hood that can fit all their hair, worn both up and down. This hood can be worn with a bun, ponytail, etc. and still be cinched down well to keep the head dry - which is a small yet noticeable feature missing from other jackets we tested.
Heavily featured, none of the competition came close to combining performance with style as well as the Marmot Women's Oracle. Whether providing ample room in the hood for hair in its many shapes or feminine tailoring, this rain jacket has enough small features to add up to a superior, comfortable luxury product. As long as you are not in the market for a lightweight piece, this jacket will satisfy.
Most of the shells we tested have a minimalist feel and generally only have two or three pockets. The Oracle has five. The best pocket is the interior waterproof pocket, which is perfect for stashing your electronic devices, keeping them away from the outside rain and condensation inside the jacket. The Oracle also packs down inside one of the pockets for maximum portability. As a bonus, the hood zips completely off, which allows for the option of using it as a casual jacket. The hood cinches are easily operated for adequate adjustability and fit. The waistline cinches are the easiest to operate of all the rain shells we tested: the loose ends of the elastic cord are threaded through the inside of the pockets, so all it takes is a quick pull on the cord in the pocket and the waist cinches up tight.
The only feature that causes us pause is the cozy fleece collar and sleeve lining, which we love, but is going to be difficult to keep clean. This fabric, in addition to providing comfort, wicks away moisture and sweat, but since many people don't regularly throw a rain slicker in the wash, you could be looking at a fabric that will get dirty quickly if you use this jacket for long adventures.
Weight & Bulk
The Women's Oracle is the heaviest of all the rain jackets we tested by two ounces. It is not for those who value light weight over features, style, and comfort. Though it does stuff into one of its pockets, at 14.3 ounces it is not ideal for backpacking or trekking. If your significant requirement is in ounces, check out the featherlight Outdoor Research Helium 2- Women's. The trade-off for its heavier weight is that this jacket is more comfortable to live in day-in and day-out.
We notice and appreciate all the solicitous features that Marmot packed onto this jacket. Many of the shells that we tested felt like a tent rain fly with sleeves – they could really only live up to the name "shell." The most obvious attribute of the Oracle is the more tailored cut of the jacket – someone noticed women have waists and bums! The arm length of the coat is perfect and the slightly longer waistline provides a comfortable cut that adds protection coverage in inclement weather. The Women's Oracle is the closest thing we tested to a lightweight coat to be used for a wide range of applications, instead of being a single function slicker.
The Oracle serves best as a casual, everyday rain jacket. Due to its notable comfort and livability, it would be the ideal piece for someone who lives and copes with a wet climate on a daily basis. Since it is heavy and packed with features, it is not the piece for gram-counting backpackers. It can easily crossover as a shell for skiing or other winter and spring activities with a few additional layers worn underneath.
At $165 this is one of the most expensive rain shells that we tested. That's a hefty price tag, but the jacket does come with a lot of awesome features. The jacket withstood abrasive conditions (heavy bushwhacking) very well, leaving it just as waterproof as ever. We never experienced any puncturing or tearing on any part of the jacket, so this investment will serve you for years to come.
Marmot PreCip - Women's ($100) is the bare bones version ($65 less) and our Best Buy winner.
Marmot Oracle - Men's, $185.
— Erisa Coppernoll, Robert Beno, and McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: June 9, 2014
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